PayPal is targeting what it estimates to be a $51 billion global market for small debts owed between friends and family members, enabling consumers to set up their own URL to collect payments.

Called PayPal.me, the feature creates a link (under the format "PayPal.Me/name") that people who owe money can visit to initiate a person-to-person transfer. The service is available in 18 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and most of Europe.

"PayPal.Me makes requesting money from groups of friends, family and colleagues suddenly so much easier and faster," said Merono Colbeci, senior director of global product at PayPal, in a Sept. 1 press release. "It's an instant, safe, unique link that works on any device no matter where you're talking to people; in a text, email, instant message, social media post, blog or on the web."

PayPal's basing the market case for PayPal.Me on internal research that contends there are more than $51 billion worth of "IOUs" in the U.S., Germany, Canada and the U.K. alone, and that people who are owed the money are reluctant to ask for payment.

"These billions of dollars go unclaimed simply because people hate spending time to chase down debts, and have those awkward face-to-face conversations," Colbeci said in the release.

PayPal.Me works similar to Venmo, a P2P social payments service that PayPal acquired as part of its purchase of Braintree two years ago. Venmo has proven popular with young consumers and PayPal is seeking to extend the model to other age groups.

Square has a similar offering. Called $Cashtags, the service uses customized identifiers that link to payments pages or the Square Cash app to execute P2P payments.

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